The Six Million Dollar Man
“The Solid Gold Kidnapping”
Writer: Larry Alexander, Alan Caillou
DIR: Russ Mayberry
Blurb (IMDB contributer - Il Tesoro -- thank you): A criminal organization known as OSO specializes in kidnapping high ranking U.S. representatives. Although Steve Austin has already thwarted one of their kidnappings, he is unable to stop them from grabbing William Henry Cameron right from under OSI's nose. OSO demands one million dollars in gold and Oscar Goldman takes the opportunity to try and lure them out into the open. Meanwhile, Steve accompanies Dr. Erica Bergner, who is testing a new method of brain transferal in order to find out where Cameron is being kept.
Scene 01: We start with the score being played over snippets of Steve’s civilian test piloting/Air Force test piloting [Steve’s background undergoes several shifts before they finally figure him out, which will finally make his career as a undercover agent rather ludicrous when other episodes have him widely recognized and celebrated for walking on the moon! And no, the mid-season‘s cheezy mustache doesn‘t explain it away].
Over scenes of the test vehicle beginning its wobbling, Oscar Goldman is again in direct contact with Steve [and sounding a little too familiar with him, considering they don’t know each other yet, as far as we’re aware… but then again, we’ve already seen that Oliver Spencer has been excised from existence by some unnoticed cosmic-shattering, timeline erasing event].
[Also, our dialog from the last time we saw this accident has all changed, too.]
Steve has his fateful meeting with the tarmac.
Scene 02: We see flashbacks of Steve being rushed into surgery with Oscar intoning that while alive, Steve has lost both legs, and arm and one of his eyes.
Scene 03: Steve lies in a bed and wakes up just long enough to see Rudy Wells out of his one good eye telling somebody that he isn’t sure that Austin would want to live. Steve blinks, and suddenly Oscar is there instead asking what if Steve could be more than what he was.
[Again, most of this is following the broad outlines of what we’ve seen before but the details have stubbornly re-written themselves as the Universe recovers from its timeline accident.]
Oscar goes on to tell New-Rudy-Wells that they have the technology to rebuild Steve Austin, while the flashbacks show Old-Rudy-Wells looking at X-rays and preparing for this revolutionary cyborgian surgery. Goldman tells New-Wells that he wants it done no matter what the cost… [poor Oliver’s fate in the new universe remains unknown].
Cut to CREDITS using the same song as last movie, anyway. I guess Dusty Springfield made her way out of the universal timeline crisis mostly intact. Her song plays over snippets of Steve’s last two adventures.
Scene 04: We come back looking down at a compound from high in the forested hills of Whereverstan. It appears we’re South of the Border at a dig site, excavating Indigenous Ruins, as we focus in on an ancient city before jump-cutting to a pit with a building’s ruins in the background and armed men walking around.
We join a Sweaty White Man whose bearing screams “Bad Guy” as he joins another man fondling a gun in a tent. Baddy-Whitey asks Pistol-Fondle if they’ve heard anything yet and P-F says, in a tone suggesting he’s jerking Baddy’s chain a bit, that maybe they’ll simply not pay.
[So apparently we’re not excavating? This is just Bad Guy Secret Base?]
Baddy-Whitey tells ‘Roger’ that he’d like that so he could go whining back to daddy with that ingratiating whine of his [Yes, this is an obvious partnership made in heaven… *cough cough*].
This makes our Pistol-Fondler, Roger Ventriss. Our Baddy-Whitey, just to save time is Julian Peck.
Convo leads us to find out that they’ve kidnapped the American Ambassador and want a million and half for his return. Julian is smirky and sure that they’ll pay.
Scene 05: We focus on our ruins building in the background where two gunmen stand around bored and I find my instant lust-object… Hooray! He’s tall, dark and dressed in desert tones standing against the wall looking like he may be about to nap standing up. I’ve a feeling though that we won’t be seeing much of him, alas. He has “day player” all over him.
We get a quick cut to our Ambassador looking a bit rough and despairing.
Scene 06: But above a ridge, we see Steve Austin in a tiny cowboy hat [?! That looks ridiculous, Lee Majors… take it off!], scoping out Bad Guy Hideout.
Steve activates a device and sticks it to a rock, then continues to slip closer to our Bad Guys Hideout. A close up shows us sticky-device has a counter ticking down.
Scene 07: We again join our two guardsman in front of the ruins building serving as the Ambassador’s temporary home.
Steve snatches up a pick axe lying around and boldly marches into the encampment [So, they are excavating, as well as kidnapping Ambassadors?].
He’s able to check out the situation from right in the middle of the compound as he fiddles with his boot lace. Another timer-device is attached to a gasoline barrel [and not at all hidden from plain view… hmmm…].
Another time-device is given to a military style Jeep that has seen better days.
[Okay, how many of these things did Steve have tucked into the front of his shirt??]
Next Steve pulls out a gunbelt and lays it on the ground with another timer device, while he counts down with his watch.
In the meantime, it appears that Julian has had to agree with Roger that his million won’t be coming and they’ll have to kill the hostage. Roger doesn’t seem nearly as bothered by this as Julian himself does.
Scene 08: The charges start going off, causing the jail guards to run TOWARD the fire balls… and leaving Steve with a clear path to the cell.
Guardsmen all fire up at the hills at random.
Scene 09: As Steve is rushing into the ruins, Julian starts to cotton onto the fact that nobody is returning fire from the surrounding hills. He gets a brainwave and orders everyone to run to the Ambassador.
Scene 10: In the Ambassador’s cell, he’s less than happy that Steve is his only rescue man. Steve tells him that things have been a little tight, what with that 70’s inflation and the usual congressional budget cuts.
Meanwhile Julian leads his rat pack cautiously toward the Ambassador’s holding cell.
They see Steve at the cell entrance and start to fire, but Austin brings down a cave in between he and they.
Scene 11: The Ambassador accuses the administration of not paying the ransom because he’s a holdover from the previous government, but Steve calmly tells him that the government just doesn’t like negotiating with terrorists.
In the meantime, he’s fiddling with a compass.
The Ambassador has a bitter laugh at them sending somebody to die with him. While the Ambassador whines, Steve starts feeling for a hidden passage that intelligence has apparently given him prior to the mission.
Commentary: Okay. I know that we’re supposed to be all impressed by Steve’s cool, calm and superpowers and all. But honestly. There seems to be zero reasons behind sending him in alone, without a strike team actually being in the hills to distract / kill the bad guys while Steve gets the Ambassador out. This is NOT one of those types of missions that Oliver suggested only one man would be appropriate for. Oscar is a jerk.
I continue to like Lee Majors in the role, though. He’s a charmer.
Scene 12: Out in the passage, Julian and Roger have dynamite brought in to blow open the rockslide caused by Steve. He assures Roger that there is only one way in or out of the room beyond. But then wonders if “their visitor” knows something they don’t about their ruins.
Scene 13: At which point, Steve mutters that he hopes he can “find it”, while the Ambassador wonders what he’s looking for. Steve helpfully explains to the official that Mayans always built a passage way out of their crypts in order to make sure their souls to proceed Heaven bound.
But, since the trigger for the slab o’ wall isn’t being helpfully apparent. Steve will just have to flash his top secret bionics and kick down the wall.
Which he does.
Commentary: And after years of watching the television episodes over and over, it’s still weird to see the bionics in action with no slow-mo or sound effects present. I can see why they felt that they needed to add some effects to highlight the bionics usage later, because these feats of superhuman abilities does feel oddly … flat… when filmed in the same way as everything else.
Scene 14: Steve and the Ambassador crawl through the wall, to find a staircase tunnel waiting for their exit. In the meantime, Julian’s men have the dynamite set to blow the rock fall out of their way.
As our two escapees make their way up to the surface from the basement cell level, Julian climbs through the hole in the cell to find them not buried under rocks or blown apart by the explosive charge they’d just set off.
Commentary: And all I can keep thinking is, “No, no, no! You always have a minion go through first! Damn it, Julian, what kinda slack jawed villain are you?!”
Scene 15: Since Julian and Roger have NO men watching over the compound now, with every hand down in the tunnels, a helicopter easily hovers for an extraction of our government hostage and our agent.
[And not even a military copter… just a nice brightly painted red & white civilian model. Honestly… there’s budget cuts and then there’s stupidity, Congress.]
Pilot complains through the radio that his rescuees are overdue and he’s a sitting duck hovering out there [with his brightly colored, noisy copter].
In the meantime, Julian and company have found the same tunnel staircase and are hot on their escapee and his helper.
Scene 16: The Ambassador and Steve make it up a hanging ladder from the top of the ruins and Julian rushes to put a stop to his cash cow making his escape.
Julian fires a rifle… not at Steve, but at the ladder rope. He makes an incredible shot, but since he only hits one side of it, and then doesn’t bother with a second shot, it doesn’t force Steve to fall to his death. He hangs on to the skids by his bionic arm though, which I’m sure Peck will be impressed seeing.
[In the meantime, the director set up this shot rather badly so it looks like a Giant Elongated Hair Beast tries to take down the copter, but actually it is a small bush twig sitting between the camera and the action. Minus One Point, Mr. Director.]
[Now, very oddly, we get a second credit sequence for the Movie Title… uh… from when the telemovie was packaged into the television series? And jeez… I’m getting exhausted with all of these asides!]
Scene 17: When we come back from our second set of credits, we’re seeing a ship out at sea. We cut to inside this ship [cleverly disguised as some rickety small freighter] to see Very Important Men looking Very Importantly Grim as news is relayed of a Minister of the Interior somewhere being taken from his home.
We’re told he was taken by a group of White Supremacist militants. The country in question refused to negotiate at first, but finally paid the ransom as the deadline approached.
Next our Head Grim Very Important Man turns to Mr. Peck for his report. He has to humiliatingly tell the Chairman that he lost his ransom-cow, the American Ambassador. Thereby proving that we’re with a Shady Criminal Very Important Grim Men Organization who apparently run a whole ransom empire [Using White Supremacists as a go between?? That seems… unstable].
Chairman is pretty laid back about this failure, until Julian - with Roger looking ever more miserable - having to tell him that it appears only one man was necessary to effect the rescue. Julian Peck goes on to tell the Chairman about Steve’s unusual feats of strength. He asks permission to begin an investigation into the value that this unusual man could bring to their venture.
The Chairman [an evil Brit, of course], gives the go ahead but only after Roger Ventriss’ plan is put into effect. Julian gives Roger the cold-stink-eye and admits that he didn’t know that Roger had a plan in the works. Rog, in a wheedling way, offers that Julian had so much on his mind with that whole Mexican operation, that he naturally went directly to the Chairman with an idea, so as not to interrupt Julian’s concentration.
‘Cause Roger cares so deeply about Julian’s success, and all.
Commentary: I have to admit that although I started this scene being a bit confused, the interaction between Special Guest Star John Vernon and Craig Huebing was a lot of fun. I especially loved the not-very-well-disguised look of disdain that Roger stares down Julian with.
Of course, Julian Peck doesn’t strike me as somebody to goad.
Scene 18: Roger Ventriss goes on to outline his money making big idea [All with that dead eyed stare at Julian. I‘m getting a very definite protégé stabbing his mentor in the back feeling with all of this].
Roger offers that his plan is worth a conservative estimate of $1B. Julian is a bit amused by this grand statement. But over scenes of a dignitary arriving at a Paris hospital, Roger goes on to tell the assembled that the man knows more about America’s military capabilities outside of the President and that his Paris hospital trip is a cover for a back channel meeting in Peking. The target is William. Henry. Cameron. [Whose three-first-named name is intoned with such gravitas and yes with that period after each name, that I find myself embarrassed to have never heard of him.]
As this is all taking place in Rog’s voiceover, William. Henry. Cameron. is checking into his Paris hospital through the droves of reporters shouting for comment. With such a man of high import, obviously Oscar Goldman is front and center in intercepting and responding to the throng of reporters.
William is escorted to his private suite in a vacant floor.
Scene 19: In his suite, Oscar and the not-at-all-ill William congratulate themselves and each other on their performances. ‘Bill’ turns serious about his mission to Peking as it’s obvious he’s very emotionally invested in these upcoming negotiations with the Chinese.
Scene 20: Oscar returns downstairs, leaving a guard stationed outside William’s door as his secret flight to Peking has over an hour before it’s set to leave.
He starts spinning a statement for the reporters.
Scene 21: Upstairs, our one guard has been joined by another. They’re joined by a nurse and orderly with a patient on a gurney. The security team are quick to point out they have the wrong floor, and nurse plays, “oops”.
Our two guards are taken out when the patient springs up with a gun in hand.
Meanwhile, Oscar goes on with his phoney-baloney to the reporters.
Scene 22: As Oscar is wrapping up, William. Henry. Cameron. is muscled and pinned to his bed while a chloroform soaked rag is held over his face.
Scene 23: In the hallway downstairs, Oscar makes sure that everything is ready to go for Bill’s secret exit.
[It’s a shame that Oscar got a four-agent detail, while our man of importance received only two. And that the two that he did get weren’t all that aggressive in doing their job. And that the elevator itself didn’t have an agent posted both in and directly outside of it, which surely two of the men with Oscar could’ve been assigned to do. Yes… such a shame this man of SO much import was rather lackadaisically protected.]
Scene 24: Obviously, our bad guys are able to bundle Mr. Cameron up onto the stretcher and role him right out past Oscar and team.
Which is soon discovered, but obvs too late. Oscar orders the building to be sealed, but William is already on his way by ambulance to a secret location to await ransoming.
Commentary: Geez, get on with it. We don’t have to watch every step of Oscar Goldman & team from the ground floor, to the elevator, to Bill’s temporary room.
Scene 25: Our baddies hustle our Ambassador/Negotiator to a waiting private jet just as dawn breaks.
As this is happening, Julian Peck comes out of nowhere to congratulate the smug, but now very puzzled, Roger Ventriss. Rog wonders what he’s doing there, while Peck goes on telling him what a stellar job was done with the abduction, and with only one casualty too.
Roger is dumb enough to actually ask who the casualty was… two silencered-bullets takes care of that answer for him. Julian offers “one down, and one to go”.
Commentary: Okay, I wasn’t expecting Roger’s quick exit from this scheme. I almost enjoyed that bit of surprise, except for the very clear board stuck in the front of Craig Huebing’s doctor’s coat which ruined the bit. Especially since we don’t actually get a squib effect on camera anyway, making it unnecessary. We can guess that this was edited afterward because the effect wasn’t working, but was after filming so they couldn’t reshoot the scene without the squib board. Quite unfortunate.
Scene 26: As Julian is overvoicing “one to go” we focus on Steve on a ski trip [I had really hoped that he was talking about The Chairman, and we were going to get a subplot about his attempted coup over the Organization. But obvs, his focus is vengeance on Steve for embarrassing him instead].
Steve flirts/harasses a lone female skier on the slope.
Scene 27: Skip to Steve’s rented cabin where lone female skier has joined him on a bear run in front of a fire place with fruit and wine. They’re lightly making out.
We’re in Aspen and our lone female skier asks if he gets up to Aspen often, which allows Steve the bon mot of how he tries ‘to get up as often as possible’.
They’re interrupted by a phone ring. Steve answers, and we can guess from his disappointed nod and placing the phone down, that it was Oscar explaining the urgency of his returning to D.C. immediately.
Scene 28: Back at the Paris Hospital, another patient with a bundled face is rushed in. This, unremarkably, is Steve being brought in undercover [Why?].
Oscar joins Steve in a surgical suite he was rolled into. He explains that the reporters are still hanging around, to explain why the mummy routine. He thanks Steve for joining them there and Steve jokes he couldn’t refuse when this was the first time Oscar had actually said ‘please’.
Oscar breaks out the ring that the President gave Mr. Cameron on his 50th birthday and his glasses which were delivered by courier to establish communication with the abductors. Before we go any further Mel, our agent who got himself easily knocked out in the hallway, joins them.
Oscar, Mel and Steve go a short-term office setup within the hospital that was supposedly for Mr. Cameron’s convenience while convalescing from pneumonia, with Oscar telling him that the ransom is $1B -- a ridiculous sum, to be sure. Oscar takes a phone call from Washington while Mel and Steve wait patiently.
Commentary: Talking, walking, talking, talking… none of it informative or urgent.
Blah, blah… god this is going to be a long review if I have to keep stopping to paraphrase extraneous dialog, instead of skipping forward to Steve on his mission.
Scene 29: Steve gets his assignment to find William. Henry. Cameron. Though even Oscar is feeling a bit pessimistic about finding the man if Washington decides not to give in to the ransom demand.
Mel, surprised, tells Austin he didn’t even know that Steve was on the team. Steve jokingly says he’s on the Taxi Squad.